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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Win Some, Lose Some

I don't really think anyone needs me to explain the dog-and-pony show that is American Idol.  If you have been so out of touch with American pop culture for the last decade, you're probably someone who votes in actual elections and who has no idea about -- or real interest in -- blogs.  Unless of course the blog was a daily analysis of how the Diane Rehm Show on NPR still manages to book guests despite Diane's death-croak of a voice.  That you'd be all over.

Now all my readers are going WTF?  The Diane Rehm Show?  She's lost us.

Exactly.  (By the way, here.)

So we've established that you all know what American Idol is.  For those who missed last night's show and haven't had time to enjoy their DVR feed as of yet, let's review the bidding. There are six contestants left:

  • Jessica Sanchez. The girl who looks like she couldn't lift a cat but can sing the barn doors off. The Sanchez you would never dream of saying "Dirty Sanchez" around unless you were really just trying to get Jessica to take a shower and get the eye glitter off, already.
  • Skylar Laine.  Like Reba McEntire, just with a hair's breadth less twang and a lot more microphone pounding.   Reba before she left the Grand Ole Opry for the CW Network.  Reba if Reba also likes ATVs and guns (not on stage, at home).
  • Phillip Phillips. Son of normal-looking (I presume adoptive) parents with apparently sick and/or stupid senses of humor. Proof positive that Dave Matthews is the biological father of at least one child in Leesburg, GA and mated with a girl who does a nasty Funky Chicken dance.
  • Elise Testone. The only contestant that can go out drinking with PP.   Legally, anyway.  Complete with cigarette-soaked growl.
  • Joshua Ledet. Star of the next Tyler Perry movie, "Son of A Preacher Man."
  • Hollie Cavanagh. Inspiration for Polly Pocket.
To judge them on pure singing alone is to engage in a six-way Sophie's Choice. They are all good. Sometimes great. Even the judges, in all their wisdom, are stumped (more on that later). I have my favorite, you have yours, God has His.

So let's just leave last night's individual performances out of it.  In fact, let's ignore even more of the show's staples.  I mean, there are enough websites that provide what I'm going to call the standard fare of American Idol rewind:  Ryan Seacrest jokes.  Amateur critiques of amateur performances.  Feigned disgust that people actually watch this stuff, when the internal inconsistency is that in order to feign your disgust over what happened at last night's broadcast, you had to watch last night's broadcast.  And that deep down, in places you don't even like to think about, you enjoyed every second of those budding artists prancing around the stage doing vocal high-wire acts.

I'm not going to give you any of those things.  I'm not even going to feign disgust at the show's general premise or longevity.  I don't know how it's doing as compared to seasons past, and I don't care.  I think American Idol is entertaining as hell, in part because of all the insane things that happen and are said.  If there was an Idol flag, I'd wave it as proudly as Sarah Palin crowds her lapel with pins of the American flag and the view of Russia from her house.  Hate me for my taste (hypocrite), love me for my honesty.

Instead of all that blather, let's take a fresh perspective on last night's winners and losers, shall we?  In a nod to the six remaining contestants, we'll do six of each.

I'm a lady, so winners go first.


1.  Royalty.  During the first hour of last night's show, each contestant had to do a cover of a Queen song.  Seriously, when was the last time you saw a picture of Freddie Mercury and enjoyed a series of nightmares soon thereafter?  Queen has been off everyone's radar since maybe Wayne's World and the Bohemian Rhapsody head-banging by Wayne and Garth in that tiny little car.  But last night, two of the original members came on to give the remaining 6 a kind of coherent and seemingly genuine pep talk.  Then those of us over [ahem] were reminded of, and those of us still in high school were introduced to, how Queen's music can really help you navigate many of life's curveballs.  Butterflies in your tummy?  Listen, there's this Crazy Little Thing Called Love.  Need a motto for your turn with Cuba?  Fidel liked "I Want It All," so that could work.  The junk in your trunk got you down?  Well, honey, Fat Bottomed Girls have been known to make the rockin' world go 'round, so chin up.

But Queen wasn't the only one with a resurgeance last night.  Randy Jackson was given back his post as the Prince of Yo.  He was wearing the pin last night to prove it.  (No photo available as of press time.)  Good on you, Randy.  Good on you.

2.  Teenagers.  Some of the strongest singers, in that even my deaf 98-year-old aunt can hear them with the tv set at a reasonable volume, are not of legal dating age except in the states they're from.  For crying out loud, I don't even know if 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez is old enough to baby-sit my kids.  Hollie and Skylar are both 18, and Joshua turned 20 a couple weeks ago.  Another reason why college is waste, everyone. 

3.  Miley Cyrus.  This girl's recent press has focused on her vanishing waistline, her boyfriend, and her narcotics.  But last night Hollie ended the show with a Miley Cyrus classic, "The Climb."  And we all hearkened back to the old Miley, the one who couldn't sing and couldn't act but was famous anyway.  The old Miley, whose press team only had to worry about (a) how to cover up that little fling she had with Pops and (b) how to convince us that when she was gyrating on a stripper pole at the Teen Choice Awards, she was really rubbing against a pencil in a bid to convey her love of school.  It was a nice reunion, is what I am saying.  We miss you Miley.

4.  Star Wars.  Fans everywhere were thrilled to see that Jennifer Lopez and C-3PO share a closet.  Even more exciting, gold MC Hammer pants and gold UVA-UVB swim shirts are a major focus of JLo's next line for Kohl's.  Everyone wins here.

5.  Hyperbole.  The judging triumverate is really hitting its stride.  They can now look at a Cheez-It and declare it a square of French culinary delight that does things to the human tongue that taste buds weren't originally designed to recognize.  Last night they bandied about phrases like "transcendent," "100 million percent," and "you're just so ready."  Also, of course, "goosies" and "she's gotta have it."  Theater personnel were handing out tranquilizers just to keep the studio audience calm.  In case over-reaction is contagious.

6.  THAT KFC COMMERCIAL.  There was a commercial that was so genius I am formally launching my bid to rename Mensa.  So we can call it KFC.  Kid stands up at the family dining table during dinner.  He's all "Jane, I'd love to thank you for a lovely meal."  Jane's all, "It's mom, dufus."  Kid's all, "This dinner is so awesome" and some other stuff that didn't matter because his tone was so smarmy pitch-perfect and the parents' glances across the table were so spot-on.  I immediately rushed out and thought about buying some fried chicken legs until I remembered that I live in Maine and we only fry haddock.


1.  Simon Cowell.  Not only is an unauthorized biography about him coming out, but this was just another week where he had to think about how he is the real Biggest Loser.  Went off to start the American version of the X Factor and came back with F's instead.  His over-produced, over-hyped flop didn't dredge up one ounce of the talent Jessica Sanchez has in one of her 16 ounces.  Sorry, Cowell old chap.  Your gamble didn't work.  Sounds like you have gads of cash though, so you'll probably be just fine.

2.  Supporting Casts.  Remember when Idol tried to blend in some Tommy Hilfiger to give the contestants fashion advice?  Yeah, me neither.  Not even Jimmy Iovine got his usual screen time mentoring the kids.  There wasn't even a featured guest judge.  And for God's sweet sake, stop referencing Jason Derulo and the stupid song we're supposedly helping him "write" along with Coke.  I've never met Coke, and I don't want to help Jason with song lyrics.  Do you know how much time this blog takes up?  Stop crowding my plate, Idol.

3.  Hammocks.  Hammocks were innocently out there, strung between two trees and swinging in the breeze.  Then along comes Elise Testone and she fashions some part-wing, part-parachute do-hickey and attaches it to the back of her dress for song 2.  That's leisure abuse, Elise, and you've got La-z-Boys and snuggies everywhere running for cover. 

4.  Sign Language.  I hate how the contestants (most of them, anyway) hold up their fingers to show us what number they are.  We get it.  When Ryan Seacrest says that to vote for you, we can text 5701, you're the 1.  We don't need more help.  Concentrate on your song choice.  Leave the number deciphering to us.

5.  Logic.  The judges, for the life of them, couldn't pic favesies last night.  They loved everyone.  They even, to a person, announced that they hope they can all come back.  That no one has to go home. 

Uhhhh....guys?  You know how this show works, right?

6.  Me.  For Christ's sake, I just made a Winners-Losers list about Queen night on American Idol.


  1. You are NOT a loser in this Abs:) At least your not maggie, who actually VOTES! (sorry, nug:))

    1. just trying to represent a a demographic other than 10-14 year old girls....shit, story of my life!

  2. Teehee. For at least 5 seasons now I've thought "no more" but apparently Fox on Weds and Thurs nights has a gravitational pull that I'm completely vulnerable to. I can't stop. I've tried. I can't do it. I have, however, managed to ease into a listening-only version of participating in the show. I don't have to sit and stare at the screen any more. I'm going to have to go back and watch the Elise spectacle.

    Incidentally, there were 2 or 3 contestants on the X Factor that I think rivaled some of these big AI voices. I was a big fan of Drew, especially. And yeah, I just outed myself as a singing-competition junkie. Like I said... Fox = gravitational pull.

    1. Good call, Ang. Fox IS affecting the Earth's gravitational forces. I didn't see anything on that phenomenon in Mr. Newton's dissertation. Lightweight.

      I liked Drew's voice a lot, too, and was pulling for her. Until she got eliminated and started shouting about Jesus as the show went to commercial. Then I was a little scared.